**Pinocchio spoiler alert**
A fan of the 1940 Walt Disney Company (“Disney”) classic Pinocchio, I recently watched the 2022 Disney live-action remake, also entitled Pinocchio. With little appreciation for Disney’s live-action remakes, I wanted to see if there was any okey-doked reimagining in the film. I’ll explain.
Also stylized “oki-doke,” the term refers to deception. I grew up using the reference in regards to many situations. For example, if someone served a sugary, juice-like beverage that was purposely watered down to increase volume, one may say, “That’s some oki-doke shit, mane.”
A popular cinematic oki-doke example for my high school carnales was depicted in the film American Me, during which Pie Face’s murder served as an interlacing series of deceptions. He was receiving an unauthorized tattoo while appearing to lift weights, when he wound up getting shanked. Okie-dokie!
“Now in the back of my mind, yo, I really do hope that motherfuckers out here don’t take my crew for no joke. ‘Cause if our backs against the wall, then we goin’ for broke, but we’ll never fall victim to the ohkeedoke!”
A shortened version of the expression, demonstrating deflection of an oki-doke attempt, was popularized in a video by Neekolul, regarding the “Ok Boomer” fad of 2019. (R.I.P. to all Simp War veterans.)
Not unrelated, the Ok Boomer trend was said to have begun when “a middle-aged man, ranting that ‘millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome,” which ties into the Disney theme of the current entry. More on that later.
Disney expressed its intentions regarding this initiative by declaring, “We are committed to inspiring a more inclusive world by reimagining the way we tell stories and who tells them,” as the company’s website boasts of its many diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility (DEIA) actions.
Perhaps at this point, you’re thinking, “Deric, what’s wrong with equity? Don’t Disney’s standards help people?” I suppose it all depends on what one’s definition of help is, much like one’s use of the term oki-doke.
If you hold the view shared by one source, “[A]ffirmative action may be one way to overcome some of the unjust forms on inequality in our society,” then affirmative action—also referred to as positive action or positive discrimination—may be viewed as subjectively good.
For instance, denying applications, auditions, or opportunities to one group of people—favoring or promoting another group, perhaps based on immutable characteristics—may be seen as a positive action, because of historic injustice. What do you think?
Personally, I think tomorrow’s history is being written in the present, so discriminatory behavior today is no less reprehensible than the prejudicial behavior of yesteryear. Then again, my assessment regarding what is or isn’t “reprehensible” is open to critique.
Time will tell how DEIA initiatives will be reflected upon, perhaps with as much scrutiny as Jim Crow laws, the Espionage Act of 1917, the Hollywood blacklist, the Motion Picture Production Code, and other discriminatory action.
My late stepmom had a saying that I frequently heard throughout my life, “Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” Performing one action while calling it something else? That’s that oki-doke shit.
When watching Pinocchio (2022), I wanted to see if, or to what extent, Disney’s reimagining would impact the classic tale. I approached the film with neither sour grapes nor sweet lemons in mind, as I instead used the lenses of critical theory, conflict theory, and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) to inform my exploration.
Critical and Conflict Theory Lenses
Between 2012 and 2014, when I attended grad school for a second time—obtaining a Master of Science in Social Work degree—I was introduced to critical theory and conflict theory. I don’t put myself forth as an expert in either theoretical framework.
I’m not an expert in anything. Still, having been informed that candidates of the program were primarily receiving training to become activists, with social work occupying a secondary aim, I had a difficult time accepting the indoctrination and conditioning.
Here’s an example of how critical and conflict lenses work. Per one source, “Critical theories aim to dig beneath the surface of social life and uncover the assumptions that keep human beings from a full and true understanding of how the world works.”
Suppose we were to consider the field of social work and look for oppression thereunto. One source states, “In the midst of a nationwide mental health crisis and shortage of providers, the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) has been and continues to use an unvalidated exam with dramatic biases that prevent Black, Latine/Hispanic, and Indigenous social workers from becoming licensed—and it must stop.”
One may surmise that alleged underrepresentation of non-whites is oppressive, based simply on interpretation of data. With this assumption, a call to action is administered. That is essentially critical theory in action.
Conflict theory is quite similar, though it is said to state “that tensions and conflicts arise when resources, status, and power are unevenly distributed between groups in society and that these conflicts become the engine for social change.” This places heavy emphasis on assigning blame.
Therefore, using critical and conflict lenses, one may presume that uneven distribution of social workers across the United States (U.S.) must be due to some powerfully oppressive entity and this injustice should be changed. It’s worth noting that this simplistic way of thinking is easily disputed.
Nonetheless, I walked away from my social work studies with some valuable tools—if for nothing else than how to know oki-doke bullshit when it appears. Whether or not it was worth thousands of dollars and time I’ll never get back is debatable.
What little I understand about alarmist theoretical perspectives allows me to use the techniques craptivist educators taught me. Using critical and conflict lenses, I’ve learned to look for oppression under every rock.
Viewing films, reading books, assessing social work case vignettes, and when working with clients, I’ve been trained to look for who’s in power and who’s being victimized. If I can’t find an oppressor, perhaps I’m it.
These “domination and oppression” lenses are simple to use, because if all one has is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. Prior to being given shit-colored glasses through which I could view the world, when watching Pinocchio (1940), I appreciated how Pinocchio severed from the strings that limited him.
My fondness of this idea is evidenced in my blog entry entitled Rap Made Me Do It. In the ’40 version, Pinocchio was encouraged by a blue fairy to be “brave, truthful, and unselfish” in order to become a “real boy.”
He was further invited to “choose between right and wrong,” following his “conscious,” manifested in physical form as Jiminy Cricket. Jiminy largely represents the superego and throughout the film, Pinocchio experiences hardship and is given the opportunity to learn about the consequences associated with his actions.
This concept is associated with personal responsibility and accountability, or ownership, for one’s actions. I use these elements when working with clients. Not all people appreciate being invited to look at what role they play in their own problem narratives.
In both the 1940 and 2022 versions of Pinocchio, Jiminy affectionately refers to Pinocchio as “Pinoke.” I appreciate that in the newer version, this seemingly insignificant element was humorously addressed when the fox attempted to spell Pinocchio’s name. Yet, I digress.
With reimagined black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), as well as injection of female characters in place of males, the live-action remake follows a similar storyline as the original. In the ’22 version, the sly fox sells Pinocchio to greedy Mangiafuoco (non-BIPOC), who perceivably represents the free market (capitalism).
The coachman (non-BIPOC) oki-dokes Pinocchio and Lampwick (non-BIPOC) encourages unruly behavior. To summarize, using critical and conflict lenses, white-appearing characters behave poorly and capitalist endeavors lead to disparity.
New to the tale is the DEIA-influenced racial swap of the blue fairy (BIPOC) and a wholly-created character Fabiana (BIPOC and disabled) along with her marionette, Sabina (BIPOC). Was there a need for these additions, other than the lenses which search for oppression having justified the changes?
Fabiana and other former workers of Mangiafuoco apparently led an uprising against their employer and formed the “New Marionette Family Theater” after the arrest of their greedy boss for…who knows what? The audience isn’t privy to such information.
Collectivized ownership over the means of production, or socialism, is something I wonder if Disney is willing to adopt rather than peddling that ohkeedoke messaging to the public. I suppose there are people who appreciate DEIA actions and those who simply virtue-signal.
The 1940 Pinocchio film demonstrated how in order to rise to his highest self, Pinocchio needed to take ownership of his situation. The 2022 Pinocchio flick seems to have portrayed a message of victim mentality, though I’ll challenge this contention in the REBT portion of this entry.
Reader, take a moment to contemplate the following questions, writing down your answers if you’d like to:
Question 1: How many black people do you estimate live in the U.S.?
Question 2: In 2019, what percentage of people killed by police was black?
I’ll provide answers in a moment. Before doing so, I’d like to explore one more question. Are DEIA initiatives, which use critical and conflict lenses to supposedly help so-called “disadvantaged” people, reliable and valid when it comes to identifying oppression?
Per one source, “Reliability refers to the degree to which an assessment tool produces consistent results,” and, “Validity implies the extent to which the research instrument measures what it is intended to measure.” Consider the following simple syllogism, using a fairly straightforward formula for assessment:
1. All A are B.
2. All C are A.
3. Therefore, all C are B.
1. If A = B
2. and C = A
3. then C = B
All humans are mammals.
All men are humans.
Therefore, all men are mammals.
Easy enough? Sound logic can lead to a true conclusion. Still, one may use sound logic though arrive at a nonfactual conclusion. Example:
Anyone who questions DEIA initiatives is a bigot.
Deric questions these initiatives.
Deric is a bigot.
Suppose we complicate the logic by deviating from the syllogistic paradigm, all while seemingly maintaining the appearance of a logical argument. This can occur when using lenses of critical and conflict theory.
Racism causes the exclusion of black people from being equally represented in film.
There are more white than black characters in the 1940 version of Pinocchio.
Therefore, Disney is racist.
How might one remedy this potentially untrue conclusion? Changing the faulty premise (“Racism causes the exclusion of black people from being equally represented in film”) would be a meaningful start.
Keep in mind that I was taught how to search for oppression. The incentive to find it any and everywhere creates a self-reliability and validity paradox.
If I can’t find oppression when I’ve already been assured it exists, I may be the oppressor who isn’t capable of seeing himself for what he is. Who would want that? Therefore, I must find oppression any and everywhere.
This is one reliability and validity conundrum related to DEIA initiatives. It may also explain why some companies, like Disney, may do whatever they can to appear as though they aren’t oppressive.
Ok, it’s time to answer the two previous questions.
Question 1: How many black people do you estimate live in the U.S.?
Answer 1: One 2022 source found that when surveyed, a significant portion of people in the U.S. thought that black people represented 41% of the population, though in actuality blacks comprised only 12.4% in 2021 data.
Question 2: In 2019, what percentage of people killed by police was black?
Answer 2: One 2021 source found that when surveyed, liberal-identifying people speculated 56.16% and very liberal-identifying people guessed 60.40%. The source further noted that blacks comprised “26.7% of the victims of police shooting fatalities between 2015 and 2020.”
How did your initial answers comport with the actual numbers? If you overestimated the number of black people, or how many blacks were killed by police, to what might your response be attributed?
If you’ve been shown awful, terrible, horrible data related to black people in the U.S., it would make sense that you might support DEIA action to remedy the perceived injustice. Who wouldn’t fall for such manipulation at face value?
If on the other hand you realize that over-infusion of supposed “diverse” characters actually supersaturates your entertainment experience, because what you see outside your door doesn’t match what you see on your screen, I have some lenses I could let you borrow which may help you see a bigot in the mirror.
Critical and conflict theories taught to me use flawed logic and faulty data to support victimhood narratives. This emotively-charged framing of the world comes with prepackaged ad hominem and straw man fallacies.
While undergoing my social work education, I was informed by university faculty that the plan in years to come was to push critical and conflict theory ideas into the mainstream public. At the time, I thought the proposition was far too daunting. Now, I think otherwise.
To some, DEIA is precisely what matters most in entertainment. This concentration on identity is often termed as “woke,” or as one source defines it, being “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination’ that originated in African-American Vernacular English.”
One criticism of the action to force representation on others relates to the term, “Get work, go broke,” because there seems to be a correlation between companies promoting DEIA initiatives and subsequently losing financial gains. Though correlation does not imply causation, I find it useful to highlight some examples of so-called woke failure.
Per a 2020 Hollywood diversity report, amplifying “women, particularly women of color,” contributes to a “growing body of evidence that when women are in leadership positions,” the “creative spaces are much more inclusive than when men are in charge,” which will presumably lead to success.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences allegedly announced that the Oscars would institute a DEIA system whereby one of three criteria needs fulfillment for recognition, “At least one actor from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group must be cast in a significant role,” the plot must relate to women, the so-called LGBTQI+ community, race or ethnicity, or disabled people, and, “At least 30 percent of the cast must be actors from at least two of those four underrepresented categories.”
Fabiana was injected to Pinocchio (2022) and maintains at least three points on the intersectionality-influenced progressive stack, because she’s black, female, and disabled. This identity versus meritocratic-based action is what some consider woke and discriminatory.
It’s also said to influence earning potential. Per one source, Oscar ratings are “dreadful,” and revenue is said to be significantly down from 2018.
Per one source, “Regardless of the argument, many Americans don’t want to hear about anything political at the Oscars.” Wokeism may not be something appreciated by all. Do you appreciate this form of entertainment?
Netflix purportedly announced “the creation of the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity,” said to “invest $100 million over the next five years in organizations that help underrepresented communities train and find jobs in TV and film.” Who determines what an underrepresented community is?
Per one source, Elon Musk purportedly “blamed Netflix’s first subscriber decline in over a decade on its politically correct programming.” I suppose if one maintains that the “personal is political,” it would make sense to politicize entertainment consumed for one’s personal enjoyment.
Not to be outdone, per one source, CNN maintained, “Our progress from past and current DEI efforts should inspire us all to do more,” touting release of CNN+. Per the company’s website, there was specific focus on “global diversity, equity & inclusion efforts,” and, “diversity across the company, including race, gender, ethnicity, LGBTQ, diverse abilities, and other aspects of social identity.”
What was allegedly the result of this “woke fuckery”? Per one source, “Discovery is shutting down CNN+ less than a month after launching the service that reportedly cost roughly $300 million to be a disaster.”
So-called “progressive” and “woke” Batgirl was reportedly canceled by the studio before ever being released. Per one source, “It’s an incredibly bad look to cancel the Latina Batgirl movie,” though, is it?
If people don’t have a taste for the oki-wokery, are they bigots? It appears as though all the ad hominem attacks and strawmen bashings simply aren’t working anymore. People seem not to like being okie-doked.
Per a separate source, “When it comes to national news, consumers purposely turn to media that reflects their personal biases because they do not trust the other side.” When consumers then turn to a film such as Pinocchio (2022), and receive oki-doke-woke shit, what are they to do?
It would appear as though some companies are so woke that they’re asleep. Then again, there are simply too many confounding variables for me to draw absolute conclusions. It’s plausible that people genuinely value the “wokerati.”
Do you value obviously-swapped characters, misrepresentation of evidence, and agenda-driven woketainment? If one disagrees with the collective, one is rendered to nothing more than a bigot. Like Tek of BCC stated, “That’s the ohkeedoke shit.”
For now, I’ll take off the critical and conflict lenses, and set aside oki-woke criticism. There was a particular element of Pinocchio (2022) I appreciated, as it relates to an REBT concept.
Earlier in this entry, I chastised the newer film for using a victimhood frame rather than promoting personal ownership to ascend to a higher version of oneself, largely the message I interpret from the ’40 Pinocchio film. There is an alternative perspective I’m willing to consider.
In the original film, Pinocchio’s main objective is to become a “real boy.” However, as he apparently lies dying on a bed at the end of the movie, the blue fairy’s voice can be heard stating, “Prove yourself brave, truthful, and unselfish, and someday you will be a real boy.”
Pinocchio is then awakened in the form of a child rather than a marionette and Jiminy receives a reward for having guided Pinocchio on his moral and ethical journey. By my view, it isn’t a tale of perfection, though one of adversity, suffering, purpose, meaning, and ultimate success.
The ending of the 2022 version is noticeably altered. Despite depiction of many similar struggles, it is Geppetto who lies dying at the end of the new movie. Logically, this checks out, because one would expect an aged person to be more impacted by dangerous feats than a young person (marionette).
Gepetto is then awakened, much as Pinocchio was in the ’40 version. However, when praising Pinocchio’s accomplishments, Gepetto states, “No real boy could ever do such a thing,” as it quickly becomes apparent that Pinocchio hasn’t met his goal of becoming a real boy.
Geppetto then explains, “Oh, Pinocchio, you honestly did try with all your heart, and that makes you a truthful boy. And you know what else it makes you? Unselfish and very, very brave.” Gepetto goes on to say, “There isn’t a single thing I would change about you,” expressing pride and love.
Pinocchio remains a marionette.
Jiminy uses expositional dialogue to explain, “So, in the end, Pinocchio did prove himself brave, honest, and unselfish. And since then, many stories have been told about him. People say he was transformed into an honest to goodness real boy. Did that actually happen? Who knows? But I do know one thing for sure. In his heart, Pinocchio is as real as any real boy could ever be.”
Setting aside the obvious implications of trans issues inherent in the film, as I’ve already written extensively on that matter in a blog entry entitled Swimming in Controversial Disbelief, I value the lesson of unconditional self-acceptance (USA).
In my blog entry, Unconditional Acceptance, I address how REBT utilizes the concept of unconditional self-, other-, and life-acceptance. Rather than using rigid and extreme attitudes concerning ourselves, others, or the world, we can learn to accept these elements without conditions.
One could make an argument that Pinocchio seeking to become a real boy was antithetical to USA, because he would only acknowledge himself as worthy if he became flesh and blood. Anything short of that condition could lead to perceived unworthiness, awfulizing, catastrophizing, and the I-can’t-stand-it narrative of low frustration tolerance (LFT).
Suppose I was Pinocchio’s psychotherapist and he told me he couldn’t stand the thought of remaining in this world as a marionette. In fact, he contemplated a trip down to the local stream where he knew hungry beavers regularly gathered.
(A)ction – The (A)ction that occurred
(B)elief – What you told yourself about the (A)ction that resulted in a (C)onsequence
(C)onsequence – What you felt (emotion or bodily sensation) about what happened and what you did (resulting behavior)
(D)isputation – How you challenge what you told yourself (Belief) about the (A)ction
(E)ffective new belief – What new effective belief (EB) you can tell yourself about the (A)ction—one that may better serve your interests or goals
People frequently maintain that an action (A) leads to a consequence (C). Pinocchio existing as a marionette (A) is said to lead to sorrow (C). However, REBT maintains that rather than an A-C connection we disturb ourselves with beliefs (B). This forms a B-C connection.
In this case, Pinocchio exists as a marionette (A) and he tells himself, “I must become a real boy in order to warrant my father’s affection, and I couldn’t stand to remain in this wooden form and be thought of as unworthy of love” (B).
Of these statements, Albert Ellis, creator of REBT, is noted as having stated, “There are three musts that hold us back: I must do well. You must treat me well. And the world must be easy.” Pinocchio irrationally believes he must be flesh and blood in order to be worthy of love.
Second, REBT highlights how LFT can enhance the severity of self-disturbance. When telling himself, “I can’t stand it,” which is an LFT narrative, Pinocchio may actually believe the message—that whatever it is he supposedly can’t stand is literally intolerable.
When buying into the faulty belief (B), or (B)ullshit he tells himself, Pinocchio then establishes a B-C connection. He feels sorrow, maintains a slumped posture, and he ruminates on the gnawing of beaver teeth.
This is an A-B-C connection that could use disputation (D), leading to an effective (E) new belief (B). While I have no intention of demonstrating the process of disputation herein, if you’d like to know more about how I do this with clients, I invite you to read my following blog entries:
Perhaps Pinocchio’s expressed goal would be to move from a sorrowful mood, by which he experiences suicidal ideation, to one of mild disappointment. Maybe it’s unrealistic to suggest that Pinocchio would be enthusiastically joyous about remaining as an animated plank of wood.
Mild disappointment is a realistic goal. Using USA, dispelling LFT narratives, and (D)isputing irrational (B)ullshit may better help Pinoke achieve his aim.
Earlier in this entry, I mentioned how the “Ok Boomer” meme supposedly began with a man addressing how Millennial and Gen Z individuals are apparently stuck in a perpetual state of immaturity, using a Disney reference to elucidate his point.
Similar claims were made about my generation, Gen X, as we were said to be “whiny,” the “Slacker Generation,” and subject to “disenchantment.” Interesting to me, Millennials are also said to be “whiny,” prone to a “slacker” style, and “disenchanted.”
I’d highlight the things being said about Gen Z, though much of it is from aging Millennials, and the copium is too potent. Let’s give it a decade or so to see if a weaker strain develops.
Nonetheless, I’m aware that not all people—especially those of newer generational cohorts—will appreciate the argument I’ve put forth herein. I realize that I’ve used Disney films to illuminate my points, so call me a Boomer, if you think I was born between 1946 and 1964.
Some, perhaps most, people won’t even consider REBT, because it isn’t a therapeutic method by which all the problems one experiences are used as victim fuel for social media. I get it.
The difference between my attempt at persuasion herein and the okie-doke tactics used by other entities is that I tell you straight up what my intentions are without any bait-and-switch or so-woke-they-schleep agenda. “Open your eyes, vato!”
Søren Kierkegaard once stated, “Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both.”
Attach strings to your body, you will regret it. Detach from the strings and you will regret that, too. Transcend into a higher self of mortal flesh and blood, or remain an animated plank of wood in a form that will outlast everyone you’ll ever love, you’ll regret it either way.
What might you regret less—doing as you currently do or working towards improvement while valuing unconditional acceptance? What I offer, without oki-woke nonsense, is the potential to lead a purpose-driven, meaningful life. That sound ok to you, Pioke?
If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
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